British Criminal Law Term Paper by Quality Writers

British Criminal Law
This paper explores the debate over subjectivism vs. objectivism in the United Kingdom's legal conceptions of criminal culpability.
# 101477 | 2,178 words | 17 sources | APA | 2008 | US
Published on Feb 26, 2008 in Law (Criminal) , Law (Historic Trials)

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This paper offers definitions of both objectivism and subjectivism. The paper examines the highly controversial Caldwell case of the early 1980s that can be seen as a prime example of what pulls the British judiciary in competing directions. The paper also looks at the legal concept of "impossible attempts" and its relationship to both subjectivism and objectivism. The paper then shows how the area of the criminal law dealing with physical assault and battery is a good example of how subjectivism and objectivism continue to grapple over legal terrain. The paper concludes that neither approach is entirely without shortcomings, but each approach is certain to gain ascendancy at different times in the future.

From the Paper:

"It is generally true that drawing a distinction between the "subjective" and the "objective" is not a particularly easy matter. For example, if the law courts attempt to justify an ascription of recklessness by arguing that someone did not notice an "obvious" risk chiefly because they did not care about that risk and what it might mean for others - a "subjective" position British courts have taken in the past - then they are obviously applying some kind of normative (objective) standard to the matter. Of course, the confusion about what is really subjectivism and what is really objectivism cries out for a definition of both. To wit, subjectivism - broadly stated - believes that "action-ascriptions" which generate criminal liability should be determined solely by looking at what the individual's intentions and beliefs were at the time of the offense. On the other hand, the objectivist camp believes that someone's actual intentions are irrelevant to whether or not they are criminally liable: instead, proponents of objectivism cleave to the view that what actually occurred trumps any intentions or non-intentions the perpetrator might have had."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Anderton v. Ryan (1985) AC 560
  • Beckford v R (1988) AC 130
  • Elliott v C. (a minor) (1983) 1 WLR 939
  • Haughton v Smith (1975) AC 476
  • Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (OAP, 24 and 25 Vict. C. 94)

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

British Criminal Law (2008, February 26) Retrieved October 03, 2022, from

MLA Format

"British Criminal Law" 26 February 2008. Web. 03 October. 2022. <>